Web to Print Guides - Pricing Systems

We all look at the cost of items in different ways. Some people always want the cheapest they can get, even if it doesn't meet their needs perfectly, others look for the best value that meets or exceeds their needs. Finally there are those that actually want the most expensive, all singing all dancing products, maybe as a status symbol.

Web to Print software, like most things in life, covers this full range of buyers' cost preferences.

Your overall goal in or before your demo is to get a really good understanding of what your system is going to cost. In a later section we will discuss the importance of making sure you know how much business you have to do online to make the system pay for itself. In this section though we are going to describe the common ways to be charged for your software and then a little bit about value and how it is not always just pure cost that goes into purchasing decisions.

Software Pricing Mechanisms

Software pricing typically combines one or more of the following:

Upfront Fee:
Most commonly found in self or managed hosted installations the upfront fee covers the initial setup of the software and potentially hardware. Upfront fees can vary depending on what options you need.

Maintenance Fee:
This is typically a regular payment for post setup support and maintenance of your software and/or hardware. It is normally a percentage of the upfront fee. Not paying a maintenance fee doesn't necessarily mean that the software is not yours to continue using.

Licence Fee:
In reality there is no distinguishable difference between a licence fee and a maintenance fee. A licence fee gives you the right to use the software, therefore not paying your fee usually results in the software no longer being available to you. Licence fees are typically paid monthly or quarterly, whereas maintenance fees are usually paid biannually or annually.

Usage Charges:
Although we have seen some wonderful ways of charging for usage the most common ways are either a percentage of the order value (sometimes with a minimum and maximum charge) or a fixed charge per order or item ordered.

The Extras

You are probably thinking "aren't the above charges enough?" Well they could be, extras don't have to be evil. Think of it this way, if there is an extension that was included in the software that increased one (or all of the fees above) and you didn't need it who is better off? We would suggest it is the software supplier.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether everything is included or everything is an optional extra, as long as the pricing is transparent and you can work out what you are going to pay for what you need (Paying for what you don't need is just paying extra for what you do!).

Extras can cover everything from training, add on functionality and even extra storage space. Ask for a price list of extras and then decide if they will apply to your circumstances or not.

Value for Money

As they say, money isn't everything! Value is subjective and there are costs that are not on any price list.

Easy ones, such as if it doesn't do what your end users want, they won't use it. Then any cost is just an expense to your business as it cannot generate a return. There are harder ones to put a value on, especially until you have had a demo, for example ease of use. Say software package one it takes on average 2 hours to build a product, on package 2 it takes 8 hours (you may think we have exaggerated the range of time it can take to build the same products on 2 different systems but be assured it is wider than we have used here). Even on relatively low hourly rates for the person building the product that is a big difference. Multiply that by the number of products required and we are sure you can see that small differences (even large differences) in monthly fees between packages can be wiped out very quickly.

Like we have said earlier, value is subjective and even after your demo you may not be able to decide which solution offers the best value to you. If you can't, don't worry and go purely with the lowest cost solution that meets your requirements. If you can, even if it is by gut instinct, grade each solution you demo on what represents value for money to you. It might just be the deciding factor in which package to go for when the fees are close between them.

Summary

Good work, part 2 of the Pre Demo Preparation guide done and dusted but what are the takeaways?

  1. Get a really good understanding of how much each system is physically going to cost including the various fees and optional extras you are going to use.

  2. Look for systems that meet your requirements (or slightly exceeds them). Don't overpay for things that look great that you will never use.

  3. Try and grade each system you demo for value for money to include non-monetary, i.e. more subjective, items.

Just as a side note here, we have only really discussed the software costs above. Most Web to Print companies offer additional services such as product building and custom development. We pick up on that topic later in the pre sign up guides section.


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